JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Making his way down to the field to celebrate, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan summed up his team’s first home win this season.
“Hopefully the spell is broken,” Khan said.
Maybe the offense is fixed, too.
Chad Henne threw two touchdown passes, sparking the NFL’s worst offense for the second consecutive week, and the Jaguars beat the Tennessee Titans 24-19 Sunday. Jacksonville (2-9) snapped a seven-game losing streak and was competitive at home for the first time in six games.
“It’s good to have something good happen, really good,” coach Mike Mularkey said. “They needed that. A lot of people needed that. It was well earned.”
Henne was the key.
Making his first start in more than 13 months, Henne found Cecil Shorts III for a 59-yard touchdown in the third quarter and hooked up with rookie Justin Blackmon for a 7-yard score in the fourth. It was similar to what he did last week at Houston, when he came off the bench in place of injured starter Blaine Gabbert and threw for 354 yards and four touchdowns.
It was Henne’s first win as a starter since December 2010.
“Hopefully this builds confidence for everybody throughout these next five games, builds new life,” Henne said.
Mularkey named Henne the starter Monday, making the change because of Henne’s performance and not because of Gabbert’s injury. Two days later, Mularkey said Henne can earn the starting job going into next season by playing well down the stretch.
So far, so good.
Henne completed 17 of 26 passes for 261 yards, most of them to Shorts (4 catches for 105 yards) and Blackmon (5 for 62). His first pass was tipped and intercepted. He also was sacked seven times, including twice that took the Jaguars out of field-goal range.
But he made up for the mistakes with clutch throws, the kind Jacksonville has been missing much of the season — especially at home.
The Jaguars had been outscored 153-44 in five losses at EverBank Field. They trailed 3-0 after Henne’s interception, but slowly seized control by holding the Titans to field goals most of the day.
Rob Bironas made four and was wide left from 42 yards away. His miss loomed large late in the game.
The Titans (4-7) cut the lead to 21-19 on Jake Locker’s 6-yard pass to Kenny Britt with 4:52 remaining and had the ball with a chance to take the lead. But Russell Allen tipped Locker’s pass over the middle, and Dwight Lowery — back on the field after a five-week absence — hauled in his first interception of the season.
“It was nice to get a timely play that put us in position to win,” Allen said. “It’s something we pride ourselves on: If we’re a position to win with our defense on the field, that’s right where we want to be. Today we were able to put it away.”
Josh Scobee’s 41-yard field goal with 24 seconds remaining left the Titans in desperation mode for the final few snaps.
Locker completed 23 of 40 passes for 261 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions. His final heave was picked off.
Chris Johnson ran 21 times for 80 yards, and that’s with a 31-yard run on Tennessee’s lone touchdown drive.
The talk in Tennessee’s locker room afterward was about how they came out flat, especially after having two weeks to prepare.
“I don’t think guys expected to come in here and just walk out and win the game,” coach Mike Munchak said. “Every team in the NFL is a good football team. If you don’t think that, you’re mistaken. I don’t think our team prepared that way. I don’t think we came here with that mindset today. We just didn’t execute as well as we needed to to win the game.”
The Titans had won two in a row on the road and looked to stay in the playoff hunt with a win after their bye week. Now, they’re probably a long shot in the AFC postseason picture.
“This makes it tougher and tougher to keep your playoff hopes alive when you drop games like this,” linebacker Zach Brown said. “We felt like this was a game where we were supposed to win.”
Notes: Jaguars lost three defensive starters: CBs Derek Cox (hamstring) and Aaron Ross (dehydration) did not play the second half, and DE Austen Lane (leg) came out late. ... Shorts set a franchise record with his fourth reception of at least 50 yards this season, surpassing the previous mark set by Keenan McCardell in 1998 and tied by Jimmy Smith the following year. ... Titans are now 3-2 in games decided by seven points or less this season.